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The Snuff Syndicate by Keith Gouveia
Publisher: Beating Windward
Publication Date: 10/12/2012
IBSN: 9780983825241

What the blurb says:

In a world where serial killers are usually isolated and disconnected, The Snuff Syndicate provides an online forum founded on the camaraderie of serial killing peers – made for them by them.

For members social media is a tool to share experiences of pure, murder-filled ecstasy. Killing is a business of painstaking details, and every killer, from novice to expert needs a place to go to see what others are doing, from the ways they select victims to the methods they use to bloody their hands. The Snuff Syndicate is where they can brag, ask for advice and revel in their most gratifying hobby.

The Snuff Syndicate offers readers a unique look into the gritty world of bloodletting. Keith Gouveia’s novella strings together eight disparate stories of serial killers. As the novella unfolds, it reacts to and intersects with the stories more and more. This unique collaborative-anthology reads more like a multi-point-of-view novel rather than anthology.

Hmm. I really wanted to like this, but I’m afraid I can’t say I did. It sounded so great, serial killer point of view and all; I was expecting a gritty and disturbing read, yet felt like I was left with a pastiche of unbelievable characters.

The main problem is that I didn’t really like the ‘novella’ in which all those other stories were woven around. I found the idea that two guys would be so blase about murder and how it happened unrealistic and the fact that it kept coming back to them annoying. I also felt like the attempts to ‘weave’ these stories together were disjointed and lazy, as though all the stories had already been written and an extra sentence or two added in to make them conform to the central idea.

Despite this, there must have been something enticing about this book as I whizzed through reading it in three days of train journeys. The short story form was great as I could really get into the individual stories without getting cut off mid-stride and in general, the narrative voice of each story was easy enough to jump right in to.

My favourite story of the collection was Lorne Dixon’s ‘NSFW’, which told the story of two male teenagers thinking they wanted to get into the killing business, but not really having any idea of what they were getting into. With a nice twist this was definitely the most gripping of the stories and it also rang true. Perhaps this was because it was about two boys who don’t really cut it as killers, whereas I felt the real killers in the collection weren’t always portrayed convincingly.

I still think this concept could have been great, it just needed better execution.

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with a review copy.

2/5

 

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Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
Publisher: Windmill Books
Publication Date: 03 Jan 2013
IBSN: 978-0099538097

It has not taken me this long to read a book since, well, sliced bread came into function. I lie. But still, it took an awfully long time to whittle away on my daily train journeys.

This book is utterly charming, but it is also bloody weird and I had no idea, for the life of me, what was going on in the entire first third. His use of language is bloomin’ creative, I can tell you that. I don’t quite know how to define its genre either, have to stab at fantasy…or sheer madness.

Introducing Joe Spork, an honest clock maker, son of a crook, friend to a Dell boy character  and tangled up in the most horrific of webs.

And his counter-narrator, Edie Banister, ex-spy extraordinaire, living a much duller life with her trusty pup, Bastion. Pushing 90, she’s beginning to wonder if her past adventures even happened.

When Joe receives a mysterious job (and I mean mysterious…I.E…no client…and the device is …well, who knows?) Oh, wait. The device is a weapon of mass destruction, with lots of mechanical bees. Well why not set it off, Joe, I’m sure there won’t be any consequences. Or, you’ll be chased by crazy ruskinites, interrogated by obscure departments of the government and hailed as a terrorist. Throw in Edie’s old enemy, a man who has about four different names throughout the novel, and you’ve got a riot. Hard to follow? I think you get my point.

On the flip-side, the narrative style of this novel is actual gold. And several of the minor characters shine through in an abundance of hilarity (Mercer Cradle, you are my hero). So I don’t think this book is bad, but I think it’s certainly challenging. I would advise to read it when you actually have some time, rather than attempting to pick it up for 20 minutes everyday.

 

Bonkers.

3/5